The Atrium building’s primary function was to house the original Blue Angel’s planes in an impressive diamond formation. Complete with perimeter connecting mezzanines, the atrium building is approximately 100-foot by 100-foot and 80-foot high. The four side walls which are braced tubular frames have large open bays. The atrium’s columns in the corners are 24-inch by 24-inch built-up tube sections. The balance of the columns is built-up 16-inch by 24-inch sections. The service bays are 50-feet wide to allow any of the aircraft to be moved to the interior exhibition halls.
The square atrium building comprises of four walls consisting of diagonally braced frames connected at the top via a steel two-way space frame which functions as horizontal diaphragm for hurricane wind lateral forces. It is also a support structure for the overhead 100-foot by 100-foot skylight and the four suspended Blue Angel aircraft. Using SAP, the side wall frames with the roof space frame were analyzed together to ensure deformation compatibility.
The Atrium’s 7 ˝ foot deep space frame support the roof skylights, suspends the Blue Angels, each weighing 8,500 pounds each, and 40 light fixtures. We determined that a 10 foot by 10 foot plan module was the largest that could be used in order to accommodate the combined gravity loads of the planes, horizontal wind shear diaphragm action and the skylight weight.
The ball-and-tube space frame system is designed to take applied loading at its nodal points, and transfer it throughout the structure. The load frame each plane is transferred into four bottom chord nodes. The planes are attached by cable to two joined parallel tubes. A thixotropic adhesive was applied to their threads to prevent attachment bolts from loosening due to vibration induced by movement of the suspended aircraft